Cruising for Christmas

Published 8:41 pm Monday, December 27, 2010

In December of 2009, my family went on a cruise to the Caribbean for Christmas. My entire extended family went.&bsp; There were 18 people total, so it was somewhat hectic getting everything and everyone organized. Nevertheless, we all enjoyed the trip immensely and had a wonderful time.

It wasnt a completely joyful time, however. One year earlier, my grandfather had passed away due to Parkinsons disease, two days before Christmas and three days before his and my grandmothers 50th wedding anniversary. The memory of that terrible time strongly lingered in all of our minds.

This was the first Christmas since his passing.&bsp; It was because of this that we were going on a trip. They had wanted to have everyone away from home for Christmas to soften the reawakened pain of losing someone who was so dearly loved. We tried to push past this and enjoy the trip.

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On the day we left, as we were on our way to the Charlotte airport, it began to snow and the road was covered with ice. My parents were already stressed about driving in those conditions and passing several wrecks on the interstate didnt help.

After an especially slow, nerve-racking drive, we wearily reached our hotel. The next morning, the whole family got together and left on our flight. The flight lasted several hours, though it seemed like an eternity.

When we arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, we were astounded by the oppressive heat. Not only was it remarkably hot, it was very humid and sticky. Having dressed warmly for the North Carolina weather, we were drenched in sweat within minutes of leaving the airport. We spent the night in a beautiful hotel near the ocean.

The next day we toured San Juan a bit and then boarded the cruise ship. We went straight to our rooms, exhausted. Once we got situated, we familiarized ourselves with the ship.

That night, the ship set sail for St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, the first stop. In the morning, we got off the ship and walked around the island. We ambled around to many different shops and stores, buying different little knick-knacks and souvenirs at each one. Later we went on a ski lift ride up a mountain and were able to view the entire island. By the time we made it back onto the ship, everyones feet were sore, and we were all exhausted.

The cruise lasted about a week with a different stop every day.&bsp; We went on bus tours on several of the islands. My favorite island, though, was Antigua. Through a cruise ship excursion, we were able to go to a small private island off the coast of the main island.&bsp; We took a bus to the beach and then rode in a motor boat to the tiny island. When we reached our destination, we were stunned by the gorgeous site that greeted us. Speechless and in awe, we stumbled off the boat. It looked just like a postcard, perfect and untarnished. We went snorkeling in the water and relaxed on the beach. The water was so blue and clear that we could see the bottom. It was only a few feet deep, and we watched all the colorful fish swimming around in the water. The time flew by, and when it was time to go back to the main island, nobody wanted to leave. We somehow managed to drag ourselves back to the ship. &bsp;

One of the things that I enjoyed most about the cruise ship was the 24-hour all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. Another thing that I took complete advantage of was the 24-hour soft serve ice cream machines.

Everybody enjoyed themselves and had a great time. We all ate a lot of food and bought many souvenirs. All the while, though, the memory of my grandfathers passing remained with us all.

Caley Modlin is a student in Alan Peoples freshman language arts class at Polk County High School.